I will never forget the first time I tried Lyra. I knew it was a beautiful art, I thought I would be strong enough to at least attempt it and definitely was excited. When I actually felt the hoop for the first time, inverted, climbed up and did my first moves, I felt such exhilaration. I was doing this for myself. I had spent over 26 years teaching fitness, dance, pole and other forms of dance to others and decided to take this just for me.

The thing was, the more I fell in love with this art, the more I wanted to share it with my students, friends and anyone who I thought would love it just as much as I did. I became certified and brought the apparatus to the studio.

Those who attended classes fell in love with Lyra just like I did. The magical thing about trying something new, something that is a bit scary, a lot hard and hurts a bit, is that it challenges you in ways you never imagined. It challenges you to overcome fears, growing confidence. It challenges you to train harder, becoming physically stronger. It challenges your ability to deal with discomfort, developing resilience and character.

I have to say that I will never regret sharing my secret passion with everyone. It has brought me so much joy and satisfaction to see my students achieve things they thought not possible, or that they thought they were not strong enough or brave enough to do. I have been honored to be on the journey with some of them grow in skill to the point that they have competed and performed at various events. I feel very humbled to be a part of someone life like this.

I know for anyone considering trying Lyra and who is scared that they are not strong enough, that it will hurt, that they are not flexible enough; you are enough. All of these “problems” have solutions and the amazing thing is that you can literally watch yourself become ‘stronger’, ‘braver’ and more confident with each class.

When people ask me what my favorite thing about Lyra is, I say, it is an apparatus that challenges my strength and fears while allowing me to be creative, dance and just feel amazing.

I asked a few of the students at Brass Vixens to share what they love most about Lyra. Here is what some of them said.

"The first time I found out what Lyra was, I had come across this Youtube video of a man and a woman performing a duet in a hoop. There was so much emotion, grace, and incredible strength in that piece, it made me teary eyed, and I decided then, that's what I wanted to do. I lived in the small town of Ajax where I used be a dancer, but when you get older, there doesn't seem to be any decent classes for adults. I think I was going through some sort of withdrawal, and in my mind the only way to start dancing again was to move to Toronto. Sounds crazy, but I moved to Toronto so that I can start dancing again, and the first thing I did was sign up with Brass Vixens and enrolled into their Lyra program. … The hoop makes me feel beautiful, I love that people are intrigued by the art, but the challenge of Lyra and the ideas that I have is definitely what keeps me hooked." – Megan K

"Lyra makes me feel Strong, Sexy, and Cool.

Strong: Because it is a full body workout. You need to engage your full body to flow into and more importantly out of moves. It also requires flexibility, so this important element to being a physically fit person cannot be ignored.

Sexy: Duh. Look at all the pretty shapes! And if you perform, or compete, you can add you personality to it. By developing a story, character and costume! So much fun.

Cool. Bitch please, all of your non Lyra friends are going to be so impressed, though your own satisfaction is of course enough. But just think of that new profile picture. Me: At the circus!
Oh yeah, and it is fun! Each week you develop strength that will help you with whatever else you are doing! Promise! And you will get support from your fellow Vixens. I cannot express just how rewarding it is to do something, even a double knee hang that feels impossible. It spills over, the confidence it builds, into other aspects of your life." – Candy

“Why do I love Lyra? I ask myself that question everyday so here it goes… I could never ever find something I am good at since I was a child... I played tennis did gymnastics and still no matter what I did I could never achieve it properly. I started with pole and found that it was not for me, so one day I went to into to Lyra class and it was love at first climb. I loved the graceful way of going into and out of poses, I love how certain shapes are so beautiful on the hoop and how strong it makes me every single time... It takes hard work but once you get passed that hard part the combination of poses and learning new tricks is so awesome and so pretty. Showing off the hard work and when it all comes together is the best part as well as self-empowerment of achieving something you have worked hard for. I will be 40 in a few months and because of Lyra I am in the best shape of my life... I can see my muscles I feel good I can hold my core and so much more... I find the hoop challenging but so rewarding.” – Danijela P

So there you go!  If you have been wanting to try Lyra, JUST DO IT!!! Never make fear an excuse for not trying something even one time.  Remember, YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE.  So there you go!  If you have been wanting to try Lyra, JUST DO IT!!! Never make fear an excuse for not trying something even one time.  Remember, YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE.  

- Written by Elisabeth Magalhaes (LeeSa).  You can find her teaching Lyra, pole, fitness and other classes at the Mississauga, Queen, Yonge and soon; Vaughn location; hanging upside down on a pole or Lyra.

Vixen of the Month Stefanie

Vanessa: What do you do besides pole dancing (profession, hobbies, interests etc.)?
Stefanie: In regards to profession, I am an Event Planner. I currently work for the City of Mississauga as the Marketing Coordinator for both Celebration Square and Meadowvale Theatre. My hobbies and interests largely fall around the entertainment industry and dancing. Dancing is a passion of mine that I have grown up with, along with acting. Anywhere from a good movie to a girls night out is my kind of night!

Vanessa: When did you first discover or hear about pole dancing?
Stefanie: I first heard about pole dancing a couple years ago, I can’t exactly remember when, but I remember thinking to myself, “Wow, I want to try that.” About a year later, I came across a groupon deal that offered a month of free classes with Brass Vixens, and I took it as a sign to try it out!

Vanessa: Do you have any previous dance or fitness background?
Stefanie: Yes I do! I have been dancing since I was about 6 years old. I used to be a heavily competitive dancer with a dance company known as “The Canadian Dance Company” where I majored in ballet, jazz, tap, hip hop, acro, contemporary, and pointe. I stopped dancing after my final year of highschool which was six years ago, and then got back into it with pole dancing last December with Brass Vixens!

Vanessa: What surprised you most about pole dancing?
Stefanie: The thing that surprised me the most about pole dancing was the amount of body strength that you need to accomplish some of the most basic tricks. I didn’t expect my upper body strength to be such a dependant feature I needed to be skilled in Pole Dancing. I’m happy I was surprised though, because that was the details that have challenged me and continue to challenge me through Pole Dancing.

Vanessa: What keeps you continuing to pole dance and attend classes at Brass Vixens?
Stefanie: I really enjoy pole dancing because it is an ongoing challenge for me and it never gets boring. I love the beauty of this discipline because there is no other that can make you feel sexy and fit at the same time. They say that beauty is pain, and pole dancing is true to it. The atmosphere of Brass Vixens is very welcoming, fun and friendly. I love how everyone who attends the classes and works out there is very supportive of their peers and open to sharing their challenges with peers.

Vanessa: Do you have any pole/aerial goals?
Stefanie: I do actually! My goal isn’t very specific, but I wanted to be able to get up to the InterPole level by the end of my first year and comfortably be able to pull off majority of the skills and inversions in this class. Unfortunately, I don’t think I will accomplish exactly that by the end of this December, but I did accomplish making it up to InterPole and training at that level. My main goal is to be able to see significant improvements in my upper body strength and to gain the skillset I need to comfortably be able to do all the skills taught in InterPole. I hope this will be accomplished by this upcoming summer of 2017

Vanessa: Do you have a favourite class and why?
Stefanie: As odd as it is to say, I don’t have a favourite class. I really enjoy all the classes the Brass Vixens has to offer, and currently I average anywhere from 4-6 classes a week. A class I really have learned to enjoy and appreciate however, which I never thought I would, is the flexy classes. I used to hate stretching as a child, but now it seems to be the most refreshing class that always gives me the same end result from the class: relaxation.

Vanessa: How has attending classes at Brass Vixens affected the rest of your life and sense of self?
Stefanie: I think when you dance at Brass Vixens there is a couple things that begin to give you a reality check in life. One of them is your self-esteem. You grow a sense of self confidence that makes you feel very capable of a lot – you stop looking for reassurance from others to tell you of your selfworth, and begin to feel it yourself. The second thing I have learned a lot from being a part of Brass Vixens is the judgement the world provides against the idea of Pole Dancing as a recreational activity. Any time people hear pole dancing, they automatically think a strip club and almost judge you in a sense by that. It’s a shame because I know many beautiful, capable women who attend these classes with me who don’t associate to this “looked down upon” lifestyle that the average public sees pole dancing as. Being a pole dancer myself, I feel I face these stereotypes and sense of discrimination from the public all the time, but because of my self-confidence, I am proud to say I pole dance and change one closed-minded view at a time

Vanessa: How do your friends and family feel about your pole dance passion?
Stefanie: My friends are very supportive of this idea and love that I really own up to this passion. They find pole dancing to be a very skilled and admirable achievement that in senses they want to try out, although I know deep down they are too shy to actually doing. But, little do they know they probably all will next year for my birthday because I definitely will be pulling out a private party class for that or a bachelorette haha! My family I think it’s a little more mixed emotions. My mom knows my passion for dance, although I think the stereotypical idea of pole dancing makes her reluctant to be proud to say it out loud. I know she supports anything I want to do so she still gauges interest in the topic, she just would never be one to suggest the idea to me. My father on the other hand, I have never asked his views, and to be honest, I’m okay with not knowing! Haha.

Vanessa: Heels or no heels?
Stefanie: Heels. Always heels. - Give a woman a good pair of shoes and she can conquer anything.

Vanessa: How would you feel about having a dance move named after you?
Stefanie: I would love it! I would just have to figure out what move exactly I would want to be known for. I think that would be the tricky party of the question, but I would be proud to have a move named after me because there would be a piece of me I left with something I am very passionate about.

VVanessa: What are your top 3 reasons to recommend pole dancing and Brass Vixens?
Stefanie: 1. It is a great workout. Better than going to the gym, and better than street dancing. If you can obtain the skillset of a pole dancer, everything else will truly become so much easier.
2. It is great for building a person’s self-esteem. It’s important that everyone is comfortable in their own skin and doesn’t care what other people say. When you make yourself as vulnerable as you do in a pole dancing classroom, it helps build a great base for a strong self-esteem for the outer world.
3. Who doesn’t secretly wish they could be a pro pole dancer? Not only is it sexy, but every time you see a good show like Cirque De Soleil, you think “Damn, I wish I could do that,” but the difference is when you train at Brass Vixens, one day you will.